Review Summary: Chicago-based trio improvises yet again on the chills of melancholia; this time, sadness fidgets with chaos, as the music plunges into an abyss beyond time and being where any consciousness bleakens
You wake up from a dream and find yourself in a near-catatonic depressive pleateau, fed up with meds and antidepressants; you open your eyes slowly, feeling the sheets of your bedside; you close your eyes again, disturbed by the radiance of noon gliding light from the window. It looks like it is daytime again. But it is not like that meant anything to you. You are confused. Your memories feel strange (people you have loved, places you lived in) and surreal, as if they belonged to a different person. You don't even remember what you did for the past days. You assume you had probably stayed in bed, swimming in voluptuous waves of excruciating pain, the heart of the storm past which nothing is possible. You are violently shaked by the strangeness of life, like a sudden fall into frozen waters, though nothing sort of a lack of meaning: you are cognitively apart. You don't recognise your body anymore. You take away your muscles from their vegetative state, stand up and take a peak outside: the light hits so hard it almost incinerates your eyes, it is reflected on every object; there are trees and cars and houses and buildings of some kind, and a sky so deep blue as you never have seen before, covered with fluffy clouds of several tones and colours, and it feels warm and you remember something but cannot precise what is it that you remember or where does it come from. Sudden zaps drill your brain, a shock of electricity. With your eyes closed, eerie images and sounds and textures loop by in the black screen of sensory deprivation. For a moment you could feel as if you weren't there. You were never there. You wish you never had to wake up again. You wish for the world to end, and release yourself from the burden of your endless agony.
This is how Give it Up feels like. And of course, it is nothing explicitly intentional. While I listen to Zelienople, I often like to imagine the spontaneous ideas and syncronies these guys put out when they are playing together. Mike Weis, officially the drummer of Zelienople, also displays a talent for recording, sampling and layering walls of droney sounds, whereas Matt Christensen's vocals are grievous and gloomy, strangely emotional. Although this album isn't their most experimental (it focuses on the emotional side of Zelienople, as in Sleeper Coach, albeit a tad more chaotic; nothing to do with sadcore), it illustrates very well the unique sound of the Chicago act, whose evident influence of folk and americana drifts away in passages of ambient, drone, jazz and noise, with little sense of structure and a continuity fuelled by free improvisation: guitar notes come out of the blue, sometimes dissonant, and pass away to unexpected prototypes of harmony which never truly become solid. The opener song, Aging, is a good example of the aforementioned concept: an eerie, disquieting piece in which many noises are conveyed, and guitars shiver to a beating, juxtaposed to a lamenting and dissonant saxophone, emerging surprisingly at the end in a complex electronic texture. Lirically, it approaches to the uncomfortable terror of getting old: How do we get this way? How do we get this old?, moans the voice of Matt Christensen, foreseeing misery and death. Can't Stop, the piece which follows, feels like an introspective parade, a meditation on how everything is constantly changing and the impotence of being oneself.
I don't believe Give it Up is an experience of highlights (All I Want is Calm and I Can Put All My Faith in Her are quoted as such, being the only remotely poppy songs), but an album to listen in its integrity, to get lost in its vibe, its resonances, its unique atmosphere.
In short: If you are in the mood for a rumorous, subtle, melancholic yet somehow calming journey, give this one a shot.
Recommended tracks: All tracks